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July 27, 2016

Colonial Williamsburg Mourns the Passing of Forrest E. Mars, Jr.

Trustee’s leadership, vision and generosity transformed the world’s largest living history museum, establishing a remarkable legacy for the nation and world

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation mourns the passing of Trustee Forrest E. Mars, Jr., whose leadership, vision and generosity transformed the world’s largest living history museum and sustains its interpretation of America’s founding era and ideals for future generations.

“If John D. Rockefeller Jr. is the father of Colonial Williamsburg for his visionary generosity in restoring Virginia’s colonial capitol, and the Reverend W.A.R. Goodwin its spiritual godfather for kindling the idea, Forrest was their progeny,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman of Colonial Williamsburg’s Board of Trustees. “His tireless dedication and big-heartedness towards preserving and sharing the structures, lifestyles and ideas of America’s founding era leave an indelible mark on our nation and the world.”

“Forrest Mars is surely among a rarified pantheon of great Americans who have made Colonial Williamsburg a national treasure,” said Mitchell B. Reiss, president and CEO of Colonial Williamsburg. “In so doing, he is himself part of that treasure. He has helped us keep the light of history and the call of patriotism alive in America.”

Colin G. Campbell, Colonial Williamsburg chairman emeritus and former president and CEO, who worked closely with Forrest for many years, said, “Colonial Williamsburg has lost an extraordinary benefactor and Nancy and I have lost a dear friend and counselor. Forrest’s love for our nation’s history is very much in evidence in the Historic Area, where he supported the reconstruction of the Charlton Coffee House, the Armoury and Tin Shop, and the Market House. These gifts and others at Colonial Williamsburg represent a remarkable legacy which has been transformative at this place for which he had such deep affection.”

A graduate of the Hotchkiss and Fay schools, Yale University and the New York University School of Business, Mars’ deep and abiding affection for Colonial Williamsburg began during visits to the restored 18th-century city. He would go on to fund more than $33 million in Colonial Williamsburg projects and initiatives, including rebuilding the Market House in honor of his wife Jacomien Mars, and providing endowments for Historic Area preservation, among other critical investments that have helped restore Colonial Williamsburg. His most recent gift of $10 million, made in May 2016, honored Nancy and Colin Campbell by creating a new Archaeological Collections Building in their name.

Mars joined the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2010 and was a lifetime member of the Foundation’s Raleigh Tavern and Goodwin donor societies. He is a recipient of the Foundation’s highest award for public service, leadership, and stewardship, the Churchill Bell, which he received in November 2013.

Media Contact:
Joe Straw